Talk about inevitable … The AP is saying: “A fired Minnesota Senate GOP staffer is threatening to expose adulterous affairs by other legislators as part of a potential lawsuit over his firing, according to a document made public Thursday. Michael Brodkorb’s legal strategy was laid out in a ‘notice of claims’ document his attorneys filed with the state Tuesday. … ‘He intends to depose all of the female legislative staff employees who participated in intimate relationships, as well as the legislators who were party to those intimate relationships, in support of his claims of gender discrimination,’ the notice said. The notice did not say how many female staffers Brodkorb believes had affairs with male legislators. Brodkorb is demanding more than $500,000 in damages, the notice said. It also threatens invasion-of-privacy claims against three former members of the Senate GOP leadership and a current and former Senate staffer.”
Over at the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes: “Brodkorb’s legal team is prepared to dig deep into the romantic lives of legislators and staffers. … His attorney, Phil Villaume, said that those depositions would be done in private to protect the identity of those involved. Vallaume said the depositions were not a threat but a legal necessity. … Long a GOP insider, Brodkorb made his mark in politics by digging up sometimes unflattering information on rivals, usually Democrats. … he may still sue Senators Geoff Michel, David Hann, Chris Gerlach, former chief of staff Cullen Sheehan and committee administrator Aaron Cocking. All were said to have knowledge of Brodkorb’s relationship with Koch or were involved in the events surrounding Brodkorb’s dismissal.” And he of theirs or others …
The soap-opera spectacle of a down-in-the-mud conservative political operator complaining that he was a victim of gender bias and threatening to out others, likely of a similar conservative stripe, has the usual suspects pulling up ringside seats. Aaron Rupar of City Pages posts from the likes of our David Brauer, Fox9’s Tom Lyden and others. He writes, “Wouldn’t it be the irony of ironies if one of the MNGOP’s most notorious operatives ends up being a big reason Republicans lose control of the legislature in November? Stay tuned for the next installment of How the Brodkorb Turns.”
That transparency in government thing isn’t working out so well for our fine neighbors to the east. Says Meg Jones in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel: “Nine months after lawmakers passed a budget that included a provision to create a website showing state government expenditures of $100 or more, the information is not easily available to anyone with access to a computer. That’s why the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group has given Wisconsin a D-minus grade in its annual report on transparency of government spending. … The study found Wisconsin is the 10th-worst state in the nation for providing information about where and how state money is spent. Several states, including Texas, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana, provide checkbook-level data, so anyone can look at expenditures, tax credits and subsidies like a checkbook. Last year Wisconsin earned a D-plus. The state dropped this year because its online checkbook is difficult to use, lacks information and lags behind other states. … Gov. Scott Walker campaigned on making government spending more transparent, but even though a provision was included in the current budget passed in June, the Department of Administration hasn’t followed through.” If you don’t know where it went, you don’t know if “it’s working.”
The president of Iraq is at the Mayo Clinic for a routine checkup. The Post-Bulletin story, by Jeff Kiger, says: “Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in Rochester this week to see doctors at Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic Spokesman Bryan Anderson confirmed this morning that Talabani is here for ‘routine medical appointments.’ … On Tuesday, international media sources were reporting that Talabani’s personal doctor was saying that the checkups, which had followed surgery in Germany, had gone well. He was quoted as describing the Iraqi president’s health as ‘good and stable.’ … In the fall of 2009, he traveled here for a medical visit, and he underwent a reportedly successful heart surgery at the clinic in August 2008. The condition of the president’s health has long been a controversial issue in Iraq. In 2008, officials suggested he was being treated for a bad knee. Eventually, it was confirmed that he had undergone heart surgery here.”
GOP Rep. John Kriesel has had enough. Says Dennis Lien in the PiPress: “Kriesel, a Cottage Grove Republican, announced Thursday … he will not seek reelection to the Minnesota House in the fall. Kriesel, 30, made the announcement in a letter to his colleagues. An Iraq War veteran who lost his legs in a roadside bomb explosion, the first-term legislator cited the strain of balancing work and family for the decision. ‘My military career was very tough on my family, and while being a State Representative pales in comparison, it still causes additional strain at home,’ he said in a news release.”
Five big local companies have made an international list of “most ethical” companies. Says Tom Webb in the PiPress: “Target, Best Buy, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Mosaic and Ecolab all were selected by Ethisphere Institute, an international think-tank on ethical issues. … The ranking is based on a variety of factors, including a corporation’s record of charitable giving, its compliance with written ethical standards, its legal and ethical track record and its supply chain oversight.”
When he writes his memoir, it’ll be very interesting to learn what Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak really thinks of his position in the Vikings stadium slog. But he’s playing his role. Today he debated Art Rolnick on the propriety of using (a lot of) public funds to subsidize a private enterprise. From MPR’s website: “Rybak promoted his city’s Vikings stadium proposal as a way to create jobs in the hospitality and construction industries during a debate on MPR’s Morning Edition with economist Art Rolnick, who argued the Vikings are resorting to ‘economic blackmail’ to force the city to prioritize sports funding over the needs of low-income residents. ‘I think we get a little bit snobbish about where people are working,’ Rybak said. ‘People in this community have become part of the American dream, especially immigrants, because the hospitality industry has given them an opening, and I will fight hard to invest in the hospitality industry.’
[Cathy] Wurzer: The Vikings are going to be there for just a few games, but really in essence they’re saying to you and to the state, ‘Look, we want to be more profitable. That’s why we want a new stadium.’ So you’re helping some very wealthy people already become wealthier, aren’t you?
Rybak: Well, I understand that, and look, I’m not a big fan of sports funding at all, but for the public right now, when you look at it, I believe that’s a good investment for a couple reasons. Number one, the funding stream we have here is existing hospitality taxes and what’s the best way to reinvest those hospitality taxes. If we could reinvest them in any of the other things that Art and I care more about, early childhood or anything else, that would be great. The legislature won’t let us do that. So under those options that we’ve got right now, I think this is a smart investment because we are using hospitality taxes for a billion-dollar investment in a hospitality industry that has a billion-dollar payroll in this community.
Wurzer: Art Rolnick, the Vikings … are a statewide asset. Jobs are generated. The economy of Minneapolis is bolstered on game days. Why not put up some public money for a new stadium?
Art Rolnick: Well, of course all good companies create jobs and are an asset to the Twin Cities, to Minnesota. We have twenty Fortune 500 companies, some of the best companies in the world. If you really go down that road, you have to ask yourself, ‘Well, which companies do we subsidize?’ But let me put this in a bigger perspective for you. This isn’t just about sports teams. We have had what we’ve dubbed an economic bidding war in this country for decades where one private company pits one state off against another. It puts our local politicians in a very difficult position. You don’t want to lose a 3M. You don’t want to lose the Vikings. You don’t want to lose General Mills … Now what you have to do finally when you’re faced with this as a local politician, you have to ask your question: Should we be subsidizing a private business? Now the mayor says it isn’t private (and) we’re going to own it publicly. Well, we already have a stadium, which is just fine. We just put on a new roof. There is absolutely no compelling reason to give the Vikings a dime if they weren’t threatening to leave. I suspect this is a bit of a bluff. I don’t know that for sure, but if we knew that for sure, the economics, the public nature of this, there’s virtually no argument I can see that would warrant a dime for the Vikings if we knew they wouldn’t leave. So let’s make it clear. This is really economic blackmail. These teams are going to come back to us every five years or so, and they’re going to want more. These are public dollars that should be used for education, for reducing crime, for reducing pollution, for building our infrastructure’.”
Dang, but I love a fervid spin. Over at True North, the local conservative site, Luke Matthews sees Congressman Keith Ellison, Mark Ritchie and other liberals keeping the marginalized … marginalized: “Ellison’s argument that requiring a state-issued photo ID somehow robs a person of their vote is absurd. In fact, it is exactly the opposite. The requirement for an ID is coupled with something very empowering; having identification. This is a great thing that gives people the ability to do things in our society they otherwise couldn’t. They can cash a check, buy cold medicine, and a thousand other things they couldn’t do before. It is a powerful tool we are enabling our most needful to get. … This is fantastic. This means people who are otherwise without state-issued ID have a way to get it. This allows them to have richer, more independent lives. … In fact, the Star Tribune and the Secretary of State Mark Ritchie are too. They apparently don’t want to empower the poorest and most needy citizens of this state with photo ID’s. In an editorial, “A smart alternative to photo ID effort,” they argue we shouldn’t give these people photo ID’s but should instead use electronic poll books. Huh? How will that help people? ‘Recommended by Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other DFLers, the electronic poll books would bring drivers’ licenses and ID photos that are already on file with the state into databases for use at each voting precinct. That kind of system would make most voters easy to identify and could be set up to accept college IDs and take on-the-spot-photos when needed’ … So, it wouldn’t give people photo ID’s they could use in their real lives. It would create a database of images that somehow verify voters but wouldn’t give people their own tool. It’s absurd. This is supposed to eliminate fraud and spread access to the franchise of voting? Utter nonsense.” … Took the words right out of my mouth.